Urinary tract infections (UTI’s) are common in both dogs and cats, affecting more females than males due to their shorter urinary tract. As with humans, UTI’s are extremely uncomfortable, if not down right painful, and if they aren’t treated promptly, can become serious, infecting other organs such as the kidneys.
Infection can contaminate just one area, such as the urethra (where urine passes through), or it can affect multiple areas such as the bladder (cystitis), kidneys, and in males, the prostate gland. Typically symptoms occur early in the infection when just the urethra and bladder are involved.
In some bladder infections, minerals in the urine crystallise and form bladder stones, which can be as small as grains of sand or larger than marbles or small rocks. Stones can also create areas where bacteria can hide from antibiotics, leading to long-term infections that are difficult to treat.
Urinary Tract Infection Causes:
The urinary tract is typically a sterile environment. Urinary tract infections most often occur when bacteria is introduced into the urinary tract via the urethra (e. coli is a common culprit) and begins to spread. Under normal conditions, the immune system responds to this type of invasion and infection does not develop. However, if your pet has a compromised immune system due to stress, old age, or has another illness/condition making them predisposed to UTI’s (kidney disease, Cushings disease, diabetes, bladder stones), their body may not be able to fight off the bacteria and as a result a UTI can occur.
As soon as the bladder gets inflamed for any reason, you’ll notice that your dog frequently tries to urinate. He or she will often end up urinating in inappropriate places, such as throughout the home rather than in the litter box or outside.
Dry commercial foods are a major culprit in producing alkaline urine, so one of the first steps you can take to prevent and treat urinary problems is changing your pet’s food to a high quality, balanced grain free diet. Note: If the pet’s urinary problem is due to the buildup of crystals and stones, the pet’s water intake should be increased and the diet should be changed to a diet that will help to maintain a low pH (acidic urine).
Symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection:
• Blood in the urine (hematuria)
• Frequent urination in small amounts
• Painful urination, or obvious discomfort
• Having ‘accidents’, being unable to hold urine
• Straining when urinating
• Excessive thirst
Conventional treatment for urinary tract infection ranges from antibiotics to surgery. While often necessary for acute attacks, they rarely address the causes and so recurrences of UTIs are common. Natural approaches can help regulate and prevent recurrences of UTIs, which include herbs and nutrients that have natural anti-biotic and anti-inflammatory properties while supporting the healing of the bladder wall and urethra.
Some helpful herbs/nutrients include the following:
Berberine is a component of Goldenseal, and acts as an antibacterial agent that prevents bacteria from attaching to cell walls. Berberine also reduces inflammation and strengthens immune functioning
Cranberry or Blueberry have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, helps reduce the number of bacteria that adheres to the urinary tract lining and is great for the prevention of recurrent infections.
Ester-C makes the urine more acidic and therefore more inhospitable to bacteria. It is also great for the lining of the bladder because it is a natural anti-inflammatory.
Juniper berry works very well when it comes to severe urinary tract infections. It’s a herb known for increasing the rate at which the kidneys filter out impurities, and therefore, increase urine production.
Marshallow root works wonderfully when there’s inflammation in the urinary tract. It stimulates the immune system and attacks bacteria that cause these infections, while also soothing the body and reducing irritation. In addition, it is antimicrobial and immune-stimulating as well.
Parsley leaf is an effective diuretic that can aid in the elimination of waste. And, in addition to being highly nutritious, parley leaves have antiseptic qualities that are great for treating urinary tract infections.
Uva Ursi leaf is one of the most powerful natural astringents available. Holistic veterinarians use it to attack a variety of pathogens that are often the cause of UTIs. It can help stop bleeding and reduce the inflammation associated with these infections.
Supplementation with B vitamins and antioxidants in times of stress, as well as offering cooling foods such as raw fruits, vegetables, and yogurt will reduce the symptoms of urinary tract infection.
Preventing Urinary Tract Infection – Clean filtered water is essential in battling urinary tract infections in both dogs and cats. If your pet does not drink enough water, they will not urinate a lot. This allows the bacteria to fester in the bladder and the urinary tract. If your dog/cat does not drink enough water, try adding some water to their food.
Urinary tract infections in pets are serious, so you definitely want to get your dog/cat to the vet as soon as symptoms arise in order to get a clear diagnosis and begin treatment. Whether your pet’s UTI is caused by bacteria, fungi, parasites, or crystals, there are many natural remedies you can try if you wish to avoid harsh conventional treatments.